‘Choose or Die’ is Netflix’s digital dive into the world of technological horror

Ryan Ranc, Life & Arts Reporter

This article contains spoilers for Netflix’s “Choose or Die.”

Netflix horror, such as “Bird Box” or “The Babysitter,” often gets talked about for weeks after releasing. However, “Choose or Die,” a romp in the world of digitial terror, went under the radar in the past few weeks. 

The movie revolves around a 1980s computer text adventure game called CURS>R, which has the ability to interact with reality, leading to nightmares and deaths of people around the main character. This cursed game bears the mantra of “the more the one who’s cursed suffers, the more the one that’s proved themself worthy benefits,” meaning that whoever survives must pass the game down to another person. From here, the story gets muddled and confusing. Overall, the plot does not live up to the excitement of the logline, but luckily, all of this can be overlooked thanks to the entertaining and believable protagonist, Kayla, played by Iola Evans.

The visuals and technological aesthetic stand out. Most technological horror strays away from visual glitches, retro tech sounds and synth music, but “Choose or Die” embraces these with heavy metal-esque EDM music and a character spitting tape out of his mouth from a VHS. These nightmarish visuals and ear-piercing audio cues never let up and engage the audience with the digital aspect of the storytelling. The best imagery in the movie happens to be the green skull that symbolizes the outcome of every round of CURS>R played.

“Choose or Die” feels like a nostalgia trip, indulging itself in elements of the 1980s. Each piece of technology that plays CURS>R appears retro and behaves like computers of the era. Another element that permeates the peculiar plot is the movie’s adherence to the style of the classic 1980s slasher phenomenon “A Nightmare on Elm Street.” CURS>R has the ability to place its players in visually stimulating nightmares similar to that of the dream sequences from the movie. Furthermore, one character has an “A Nightmare on Elm Street” poster in his room by his computer. The biggest sign of this movie’s love for 1980s slashers comes in the form of a voice cameo by Robert Englund who plays Freddy Krueger in every “Nightmare on Elm Street” film (with the exception of the 2010 remake).

Aside from praise for its style, the movie also paces itself well. The movie takes only 84 minutes. Movies in the age of sequels and Marvel mania rarely fall under an hour and a half, so whenever one does, audiences should indulge. This movie starts right away and does not ease up the tension and speed until it ends, playing out with efficiency and not overstaying its welcome. If the movie had been any longer, it would have been dull and miserable to sit through. It does not spend time explaining itself, leaving the audience to ponder. This only aids the plot, considering its shallow nature.

“Choose or Die” is nothing extraordinary due to its lackluster execution of a great concept, but its visual style and nods to 1980s horror movies, along with the entertaining cast and short runtime, combine to create a movie horror fans will want to check out. It’s short, it’s simple and all in all a lot of fun! It will not waste your time.

3 ½ choices or potential deaths out of 5